We’ve all heard the term “instant gratification”. In today’s world of technology and instant access to everything at our fingertips, society as a whole has been accused of seeking instant gratification. Of being unwilling to wait for anything, but instead needing to have it all, and have it now. Is patience, and putting in real effort and commitment to achieve the things we want, a lost art?
My last few weeks have been consumed by college classes, in particular a seven-week accelerated course that has been making heavy demands on my time and attention. I must’ve asked myself a hundred times since the class began, “why am I doing this?” I’ve wanted to give up countless times. Just stop, pull the plug, and let peace find its way back into my life. I’ve been under a great deal of pressure, and I just wanted it to stop. I wanted the stress to go away and for things to just be easy again.
But I know something deep down inside that my impulsive mind doesn’t like to accept – that pressure, and stress, and hard work…those things are not only a part of achieving greatness; they are a requirement. Simply put – nothing worth really having in life comes easy. If you are forced to work hard, even when you don’t want to…to be patient and accept that reaching your end goal will take time…then when you get what you are working for you will be met with an unbelievable amount of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
This is called delayed gratification. That means putting in the work now, even if it’s hard and unenjoyable and you have to force yourself to take every single step forward; talking yourself down during every doubt and insecurity so you don’t give up; being willing to wait for the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that will come when you reach the end and obtain whatever it is that you’ve wanted and worked so hard and long for.
I will be the first to admit that patience was never my strong suit. Even as a child, I was never good at waiting. I always had an end goal in mind, and I would go at it hard and not stop until I got it…while almost always rushing the process to get there. The hard work was never a problem, but the waiting was. Since becoming a mother I’ve naturally grown more patient – motherhood seldom gives me a choice. But it is still something I have to work at and remind myself to be conscious of.
So every single one of those hundred times I asked myself why I’m doing this, and contemplated throwing in the towel because “I don’t actually need this degree”, I had to stop and remind myself why. Because I’m the first person in my immediate family to ever go to college, and because I’m not satisfied with just the associate’s degree I currently have. Because I was raised in a blue collar, working class, low-wage-earning family where “get an education” and “have a good day with an A” was drilled into me by my grandfather every single moment of my childhood, because an education was not something the rest of my family ever had the privilege of receiving. My father and grandmother never even finished high school, let alone went to college. And I, being the first-born child and grandchild, was the great hope in the family of changing our story and creating a new history for us. I had some serious expectations to live up to, and I’m determined to meet them.
Because being a writer was a dream since I was in first grade, and because I allowed too many hard times in my adolescence derail me in ways that took years to overcome. Because I let insecurities and misdirection stop me from chasing that dream when I was 18 years old like I should have. Because since I was 12 years old nothing has been easy; because I’ve had to fight and struggle and bust my ass to overcome odds that never seemed to be in my favor in order to get to where I am today. Because, no matter how many times I nearly let life swallow me up and ruin me, I continued getting up and pushing back against what was forcing me down. Because, in just the last three or four years, I can finally say that I have my head on straight, my feet firmly on the ground, and I have overcome! I know what I want and what I’m willing to do to get there, and giving up will not ever be a part of my DNA.
In short – I did not come this far to give up now. I traveled a long road and fell off course so many times to get here, and sometimes I’m even embarrassed to admit that I’m 33 years old and still do not have my bachelor’s degree. But if getting it means I have to work a little harder, and force myself to wait a few years longer…then so be it. I will take that delayed gratification and I will celebrate with complete and total abandon when I get it.
So if there is something that you want…fight for it. Wait for it. Work and trust and have patience. Stay the course and don’t give up, and you will get it.